Numismatica Ars Classica
Auction 106  9-10 May 2018
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Lot 991

Estimate: 12 000 CHF
Price realized: 10 000 CHF
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Septimius Severus augustus, 193 – 211. As 208, Æ 10.28g. SEVERVS – PIVS AVG Laureate head r. Rev. P M TR P XVI COS III P P S C Bridge with arches, towers at both ends; below, boat. C 523. BMC 857. RIC 786a var. (drapery on l. shoulder).
Extremely rare. A very interesting reverse composition and a lovely
green patina. About extremely fine / extremely fine

Ex Helios 3, 2009, 162 and Gorny & Mosch 240, 2016, 534 sales.

Having settled the affairs of the Roman Empire in the East, in A.D. 208, Septimius Severus turned to the West and prepared for new campaigns in Britannia. The province, which consisted primarily of the territory of modern England and Wales, was frequently troubled by the Caledonians, an ancient people of what is now Scotland. Over the course of decades, the Caledonians had developed the unwelcome habit of overrunning Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall (both intended to keep them out) to plunder the northern reaches of Britannia. Determined to put a stop to these invasions, Severus and his son, Caracalla, landed in Britannia with an army of some 40,000 men and marched north. As they marched, Severus established new forts and strengthened established ones along the way. Repairs were made to sections of the two walls and an expansive new legionary camp was attached to the Antonine Wall in order to increase the manpower defending it. Severus then led a difficult campaign through the entirety of Caledonia to reach the northern tip of the island. On the way, the Roman forces suffered from the cold, wet weather and Caledonian guerilla tactics, but in the end Severus compelled the Caledonians to sue for peace and give up the Central Lowlands in A.D. 210. Unfortunately, the peace did not last and the Caledonians revolted before the year was out. Severus swore vengeance and prepared for a terrible campaign of extermination from his base at Eboracum (modern York). His plans never came to fruition, for while at Eboracum an illness that had troubled him since he came to Britannia took his life in A.D. 211. After the death of his father, Caracalla briefly fought the Caledonians before making a peace settlement and withdrawing south of Hadrian's Wall. The Romans would never again reach into Caledonian territory. The reverse type of this as depicts a monumental bridge over a waterway while a small boat sails below. The design copies an earlier type of Trajan (RIC II 569), depicting the bridge that he constructed across the Danube during his celebrated Dacian Wars, but here probably serves to represent a bridge built across the Firth of Forth during Severus' Caledonian campaign. Severus' coinage frequently took typological cues from the coins of earlier "good" emperors as a means of connecting his reign to the less troubled times of the Antonine Age. By alluding to a coin associated with Trajan's Dacian Wars, Severus' Caledonian campaign and its constructions were given an elevated status and Severus was cast in the same light as the Optimus Princeps.
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